Polzeath to St Enodoc Church circular walk

Polzeath to St Enodoc Church

A circular walk along the coast from Polzeath past a number of small coves to the vast sandy beach at Daymer Bay, returning through the dunes past St Enodoc Church which was once so deeply buried in the sand that entrance for services was through the roof.

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The walk starts at Polzeath beach and follows the coast path, known as "The Greenaway", around past a number of small beaches with purple-and-green pinstripe rocks and many rockpools to explore at low tide. The route continues past remains of shipwrecks on Trebetherick point and descends onto the beach at Daymer Bay before heading through the sand dunes to St Enodoc Church - the burial place of Sir John Betjeman. The route then loops inland, across fields and golf courses, to reach Polzeath.


  • Route includes paths close to unfenced cliff edges.

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 106
  • Distance: 3.7 miles/6 km
  • Steepness grade: Easy
  • Recommended footwear: walking shoes, or trainers in summer

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 106 OS Explorer 106 (laminated version)

Click or tap on map for more info (blue=laminated)


  • Golden, sandy beaches at Polzeath, Broadagogue Cove and Daymer Bay
  • Panoramic views across Polzeath beach and Hayle Bay
  • Surreal purple-and-green-striped rocks and remains of shipwrecks around Trebetherick Point
  • Panoramic views along Daymer Bay and across the Camel Estuary to Stepper Point
  • St Enodoc Church - burial place of Sir John Betjeman and itself once buried in the dunes
  • Rolling countryside around Trebetherick and Roserrow with views of Pentire Point

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Oystercatcher


  1. From the beach car park with the sea behind you, turn right onto the road and follow it up the hill to the bend with a coast path sign.

    The name Polzeath comes from the Cornish words for "dry" and for "pool/harbour", perhaps because there is a beach at all stages of the tide. Down the left side of the beach, there are some good rockpools at low tide. The rest of the beach is very flat and sandy, which can make for some long rides (and paddles!) if you are surfing. This also means that in the shallows, the waves are small which makes it safer for small children to paddle or surf than some of the steeper beaches further north. The beach is patrolled by lifeguards and there is usually a separately flagged Malibu area to avoid surfers mowing down swimmers.

    The tide goes out and comes in a long way so bear that in mind to avoid floating picnics. In the event of such a catastrophe or for those more inclined, there are a number of cafés around the beach and even a grocery shop. There is often an ice cream van on the beach in the summer, so parents may want to be armed with change to avoid diplomatic incidents.

  2. Follow the coast path from the signpost, along the fence, to eventually reach a footbridge.

    As a wave approaches the beach, the bottom of the wave (which extends as far below the water as the crest does above the surface) starts to get close to the seabed and this begins to slow the wave down. As it slows down, its energy is transferred into increased height and the result is more closely-spaced, taller waves. The bottom of the wave now extends even closer to the seabed and is slowed even more. Eventually, the top of the wave outruns the bottom and the wave breaks. More sudden changes to depth allow the wave to get taller and steeper before it has time to break which is why "reef breaks" attract surfers.

  3. Cross the footbridge and follow the path (known as "The Greenaway") along the cliffs, passing a couple of small sandy beaches, until you reach the larger Greenaway Beach where there is a "to the beach" sign (facing away from you).

    The sandy soil along the coast is able to support plants more commonly seen on chalk downs such as cowslips, due to the sand being comprised of small fragments of shell (calcium carbonate). The majority of the soil in North Cornwall is acidic, particularly towards Bodmin Moor, so sand from the beaches was used extensively to improve the soil fertility for farming.

  4. From Greenaway Beach, follow the coast path to reach Fishing Cove Field (indicated by signs where the path passes through a gap in a wall).

    As you round the point, next to the path are the remains of shipwrecks, washed ashore in heavy seas.

    On 11 April 1900, the sailing ship "Peace and Plenty" was returning from fishing and, on rounding Stepper Point at the entrance to the Camel Estuary, was becalmed. The vessel was anchored but in the rough sea, the ship began to roll and the anchor dragged. Eventually she struck Greenway Rocks on the opposite side of the estuary. The Padstow lifeboat "Arab" was launched and anchored close to the stricken ship. A tremendous wave struck the lifeboat, breaking ten oars and washing eight of her crew overboard. The men managed to regain the lifeboat without loss of life but due to the lack of oars, it was incapacitated. Using the remaining oars and the anchor cable, the coxwain managed to manoeuvre the boat into a creek where the crew jumped ashore, moments before she was dashed against the rocks. The new Padstow steam lifeboat was then launched, but as it left the harbour, a large wave broke and capsized it; eight of her crew of eleven were drowned and it was also wrecked. The Trebetherick rocket brigade managed to attach lines to the "Peace and Plenty" just before it sank beneath the surface, and five of the eight crew were saved.

  5. Continue following the coast path along the edge of Fishing Cove and into Daymer Bay car park.

    Trebetherick Point at Daymer Bay is a geologist's paradise, deemed "difficult and controversial (therefore interesting and exciting!)" by the Open University Geological Society. The rest of us can admire the pretty green-and-purple-striped slate!

    Slate is formed when clay or volcanic ash is compressed under millions of years of deposits to form shale, and then the shale is subject to a (relatively low, in geological terms) heat and pressure transforming it into a harder, less-crumbly rock - slate. The heat and pressure can arise from an intrusion of molten magma into the sedimentary rocks or from the friction associated with collision of tectonic plates. Like shale, slate also has a layered structure, splitting into thin sheets which have proven ideal for shedding water from roofs without collapsing them under the weight of stone. However, the direction that the slate splits into layers is often not the same as the direction of the layers that were laid down in the original shale. This is because a reorganisation of the mineral components occurs during the metamorphosis, based on the direction that the pressure was applied. In other words, it's possible to have stripey slates.

  6. As you enter the car park, bear right along the edge and take the steps down to the beach. Cross the stream and walk roughly halfway along the beach to a gap in the dunes between the two fences.

    Daymer bay is situated around the corner from Polzeath, facing into the Camel Estuary. The beach lies directly in front of the car park, down a short flight of steps. The sheltered estuary means that Daymer Bay is popular for windsurfing, kitesurfing etc. There is a beach at all states of the tide and the waves are never very big so it's a safe place to take young children paddling, though in deeper water the tidal river currents can be strong so swimming out into the estuary is not advised.

  7. Turn left and follow the path (which may be a stream bed in winter) between the fences then bear right to reach a tall waymark post at a junction of paths.

    Erosion of the vegetation by foot traffic can cause the dunes to disintegrate, so areas are sometimes fenced off to allow the all-important weeds to recover, particularly the seaward edge which is both the most fragile and most visited area. During the 1970s-80s erosion was at its worst but many dunes have since been stabilised. Some of the fencing has now been removed to allow some bare areas of sand to be created which are necessary for the natural process of sand migration to the dunes further inland.

  8. Bear right onto the path with white St Enodoc Golf Course signs and follow this past the signs to reach the white marker stones. Follow the path marked out with white stones across the golf course, heading for St Enodoc church, until the path enters some bushes and emerges on another path at a waymark.

    In 1889, some local golf enthusiasts laid out a few holes amongst the dunes at Rock and they formed St. Enodoc Golf Club in 1890. A course was built in 1890 but initially only consisted of 9 holes. It wasn't until 2 years later that another 9 were added. In 1907, a new 18 hole course was laid out, which forms the basis of today's course, with a number of alterations in the intervening years. The course now ranks within the top 100 in the world.

  9. At the waymark, bear right onto the path and follow it a short distance to a fork in the path with a "golfers only" sign on the right.

    Golf developed in The Netherlands during the Middle Ages and was introduced into Scotland towards the end of this period where it evolved to its present form. The word golf is thought to be a Scots alteration of Dutch colf meaning "club". Golf is first documented in Scotland in a 1457 Act of the Scottish Parliament, prohibiting the playing of the games of gowf and futball as these were a distraction from archery practice.

  10. Bear left at the fork and follow along the edge of the churchyard on the left until you reach the entrance.

    St Enodoc church is located amongst the greens of the St Enodoc Golf Course. The church dates from the 12th century and is said to lie on the site of a cave where St Enodoc lived as a hermit. It is thought that St Enoder (aka Enodoc) was the grandson of the 5th Century Celtic King Brychan.

    Over a number of centuries, the church became virtually buried by the towans (dunes) and was known locally as "Sinking Neddy". In order to collect its tithes, the church had to host services at least once a year so the vicar and congregation had to enter through a hole in the roof during this period. During the 19th century, the church was excavated and later it became a favourite place of Sir John Betjeman who is buried in the churchyard.

  11. Facing away from the church, turn left at the waymark and follow the path behind the church indicated by the white marker stones across the golf course, until you reach a wooden gate on your right.

    You'll notice that there is lichen growing on many of the headstones in the churchyard. Of the 2,000 British species, over a third have been found in churchyards and more than 600 have been found growing on churchyard stone in lowland England. Almost half the species are rare and some seldom, if ever, occur in other habitats. Many churchyards are found to have well over 100 species.

  12. Go through the kissing gate next to the gate and bear left slightly, heading towards the middle of the far hedge below the cuboid building on the skyline. Once you have crossed the brow of the hill, a wooden stile will come into view; make for this.

    The Ramblers Association and National Farmers Union suggest some "dos and don'ts" for walkers which we've collated with some info from the local Countryside Access Team.


    • Stop, look and listen on entering a field. Look out for any animals and watch how they are behaving, particularly bulls or cows with calves
    • Be prepared for farm animals to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you.
    • Try to avoid getting between cows and their calves.
    • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd.
    • Keep your dog close and under effective control on a lead around cows and sheep.
    • Remember to close gates behind you when walking through fields containing livestock.
    • If you and your dog feel threatened, work your way to the field boundary and quietly make your way to safety.
    • Report any dangerous incidents to the Cornwall Council Countryside Access Team - phone 0300 1234 202 for emergencies or for non-emergencies use the iWalk Cornwall app to report a footpath issue (via the menu next to the direction on the directions screen).


    • If you are threatened by cattle, don't hang onto your dog: let it go to allow the dog to run to safety.
    • Don't put yourself at risk. Find another way around the cattle and rejoin the footpath as soon as possible.
    • Don't panic or run. Most cattle will stop before they reach you. If they follow, just walk on quietly.
  13. Cross the stile and a stone footbridge, then bear right slightly onto the path across the field towards the hedge opposite to reach a stone stile in a gap in the hedge below the largest group of tall trees.

    Barley was one of the first domesticated crops and has been dated back over 10,000 years. Consequently beer made from barley is likely to have been one of the first alcoholic drinks consumed by the Neolithic tribes.

  14. Carefully cross the stile onto the road and cross the road to the signposted track opposite. Follow the track along the fence on the right then continue ahead, past the houses, to a stile into the field behind.

    The footpath leads to Roserrow, which is pronounced "roz" (as in police) and "errow" (how the queen would say "arrow"). Ros was the Cornish word for "moor" and erow meant "an acre". The acre of moorland is now an acre of golf course.

  15. Cross the stile and follow the path between the electric fences towards the opening in the middle of the far hedge to reach a strand of fence across the path between two posts.

    The village of "Rock" is a shortening of "Black Rock" which was the name used in the 18th Century. This itself derived from "Black Tor" (recorded as Blaketorre in the 14th Century). The original Cornish name penmayn, documented in 1303, was also along the same lines, meaning "at the end of the stones".

  16. Go through the three electric fences by unhooking the clips between the closely-spaced wooden posts with the black insulating handles and re-hooking afterwards. Once through the last fence and in the field ahead, bear left very slightly across it to a small opening in the middle of the section of hedge you are facing (with another electric fence clip).

    Electric fences are typically powered from a low voltage source such as a car battery which charges a capacitor to release a periodic pulse of high voltage electricity. This is often audible as a quiet "crack" which is a good indicator that a fence is powered. As with the high-voltage shock caused by static electricity, the current is not high enough to cause serious injury but touching an electric fence is nevertheless unpleasant. If you are answering the call of nature in the vicinity of an electric fence, be mindful of the conductivity of electrolyte solutions!

  17. Go down the steps and cross the stream and stile on the other side, which emerges onto the golf course. Avoiding golf balls (which would be coming from the right), follow the white stones across the grass towards the corner of a small section of stone wall with another white stone on the top.

    The golf course at Roserrow is now known as "The Point" due to the rather nice view of Pentire. Although the course's website states that "suitable golfing attire is compulsory", there is no need to dress in Argyle jumpers for this part of the route. However, please respect the grass when crossing the fairways (e.g. avoid stabbing it with walking poles). Also take note of the locations of any players and direction of play, to avoid any parts of your anatomy impeding the progress of golf balls.

  18. Pass the end of the wall then follow the white stones through a gap in the wall. Continue following the line of white stones to meet a fence and continue along this to where the path meets a tarmac drive.

    Cargo washed from ships wrecked on the Doom Bar provided some supplements to the income of the locals. The West Briton Newspaper reported on 5 Feb 1819:

    The country people in the neighbourhood of Padstow have been rather busily employed, for some time, in securing the part of the cargo of a vessel lately wrecked on their coast. On Wednesday evening last, a box of figs, part of this cargo, was discovered on St Minver Commons which gave rise to a serious affray between a party of damsels who were on the lookout for secreted plunder, and some bal maidens who were returning from a mine. The contest lasted for two hours in the course of which some of the combatants were reduced to a state of approaching nudity. In the end the bal maidens were victorious and carried off the prize.

    In previous centuries, the mines in the area provided employment for both sexes.

    During Georgian and Victorian times, many teenage girls were employed in Cornwall as "Bal Maidens" (sometimes shortened to "Bal Maids"). Whilst the period may conjure up images depicted in Jane Austen novels, young ladies were somewhat less sappy in Cornwall. The girls would break ore-bearing rocks with a heavy pointed hammer to separate the ore from the surrounding rock. The ore was then broken into granules (a process known as buckling) by bashing it with a lump hammer. It was recorded in 1851 that there were more than 6,000 women and girls working at Cornish mines.

  19. Cross the tarmac to the track opposite and keep following this until it ends on the golf course with a white wooden post with a sign indicating the route across the fairway.

    You might have noticed that Hayle Bay is marked on maps as not at Hayle near St Ives but at Polzeath. Although this might look like the cartographer had a prior engagement with local scrumpy, there is another explanation: Heyl is Cornish for "Estuary". Further up the River Camel at Wadebridge is Egloshayle, which translates to something along the lines of "church by the estuary".

  20. Turn right at the sign and follow the path downhill across 2 fairways to reach a path leading downhill, marked with white stones.

    As you are crossing the first fairway, look out for golf balls from the left. On the second fairway, check to the right.

  21. Follow the path downhill to join a gravel path and follow this to just before it turns to go through a gap in the wall and ends.

    Rooks can be distinguished from other members of the crow family by their pale, hairless, pointy beak (other members of the crow family have black beaks and also a moustache on the top of their beak).

  22. Continue ahead from the bend in the gravel path to the signpost then follow the path into the trees to reach a junction of paths. Turn right at the junction to reach a bridge.

    Shilla Mill is situated at the confluence of two streams above Polzeath: one rises 2 miles to the south near St Minver, and the other rises north of Pityme. The mill dates back to Tudor times (built around 1590) and operated until late Victorian times when it was converted into a house.

  23. Cross the bridge to Shilla Mill then bear left to follow the track. Continue on the track until it ends on the road at Polzeath.

    Grain for animal feed was ground using millstones made from readily-available Cornish granite which tended to shed pieces of grit that would make flour unfit for human consumption. Fine flour used for baking was milled using millstones made of imported French quartz or limestone.

  24. Turn left onto the road and follow it over the stream to return to the car park and complete the circular walk.

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